Whether it’s enjoying late fall color or being the ideal spot for a small-town holiday getaway, Chimney Rock State Park & Hickory Nut Gorge are the perfect alternative to busy holiday clamor.

The locals know it.
Our first-time visitors are delightfully surprised by it.
Our long-tome fans have pictures to prove it.44_flooded-street-nice

Fall in Western North Carolina is stunning in its own right. But fall and winter at Chimney Rock and in Hickory Nut Gorge? Well, it’s all just pretty mesmerizing. And you can bet, when the color has faded elsewhere, and the leaves have made a carpet of the ground, fall is still hanging on here in the Gorge.

That’s thanks in part to our being in a Thermal Belt. We’ll save you the biology lesson, but suffice it to say that it means fall comes later and lasts longer here!

The vast expanse of forested terrain in the Park make it one of the more prominent places in the Eastern United States to enjoy the fall colors well into November. With multiple tree species, the Western North Carolina Mountains are abundant in hardwood forests populated by trees well-known for their bright fall colors

As the season continues into November, the lines are shorter and the crowds die down. Savvy visitors who steer clear of the shopping malls also seem to know it’s the best time to get a jump on holiday shopping for local arts and crafts or unique post-holiday finds in late December.

Winter Events at the Park:

Guided Hikes, a Very Special Film Night at Town Hall & A Rappelling Santa

All the way up through early November, you can take in a multi-colored view sitting on the back porch at the Old Rock Café in Chimney Rock Village. Along the streets of the Village, the shops, cafes and sidewalks are all dressed out in their annual display of gorgeous holiday lights.44_avl-underwater-nice

This year in particular, early November is an especially great time to visit the Park and the Gorge for reasons other than beauty, color and relaxation.

Here’s why: On Nov. 10th Chimney Rock Management, LLC operators of the Chimney Rock section of the Park, will host the showing of David Weintraub’s documentary film, Come Hell or High Water, Remembering the Flood of 1916. 44_looking-at-floodwaters

The film was created to commemorate the 100th anniversary of this devastating event which had a huge impact on Western North Carolina and Hickory Nut Gorge. To showcase a traveling exhibit of the 1916 flood, the evening begins at 6:30 pm at Lake Lure Town Hall with a reception by co-hosted by Duke Energy. The exhibit is being provided by the North Carolina Department of Natural and Cultural Resources.

The documentary starts at 7 pm. Following the film, there will be a discussion by county historians and some local elders whose families were affected. The community is invited, but space is limited, so save the date and plan to attend.

Then, in December, the Park gets completely into the holiday spirit with its annual Santa on the Chimney, (Dec. 3rd and Dec. 10).

Every year, visitors come from all around to witness Santa’s daring stunt as he practices on one of the world’s largest chimneys with multiple 200-foot rappels! It’s a perfect time to meet Santa and Mrs. Claus, enjoy live holiday music, hot cocoa, cookies and kids’ activities.

This rappelling Santa was recently named one of the “Strangest Places to See St. Nick” by Yahoo Travel and has been named one of the, “Eight Most Extreme Santas in the World,” by Buzzfeed.

This year, you can win a free Climb with Santa’s Elves! Each day, one lucky guest will win free two-hour rock climbing lessons for two with Santa’s professional helpers, Fox Mountain Guides.

Check out the Park’s website for all the details on these events and be sure to follow us on our Facebook Page for weekly updates!

Special to the Mtn.Breeze by Park Contributor, Valerie A. Hoffman